Cross Eyed Cats, What is it?

What is a Cross-Eyed Cat/ Strabismus?

The cross-eyed condition in cats is mostly genetic and its medical name is strabismus.

This occurs on each opposite side of the eyeball when the muscles attached to them are not on the same length. Additionally, it makes the eyeballs slide from top to bottom or side to side.

However, in certain cases, one muscle may be longer or stronger than the one on the opposite side of the eye, this causes the eyeball to deviate off the correct direction. If the eyes deviate towards the nose, the cat is cross-eyed

Cross Eyes in Cats, Is it Serious?

Strabismus is a visual problem in which the eyes point in different directions in cats when not aligned properly.

On looking forward, the ‘normal’ eye will be looking ahead, while the affected eye will be looking in another direction, e.g. up or down, left or right.

Which Cat Breeds are affected by Crossed Eyes?

Crossed-eyes can affect any cats with injury, nerve damage, or due to genetics. Particularly, it is more in some cats like Siamese, Persian and Himalayan cat breeds due to their genetics.

The very striking appearance of Siamese cats, for example, is caused by a convergent strabismus, where both eyeballs are looking inward towards the nose.

Conversely if the cats’ eyeballs deviate outward, away from the nose it is called divergent strabismus.

Causes of Crossed Eyes in Cats

Cats can suffer from crossed eyes due to nerve damage, injury, or genetics.

Not only is Strabismus often mild but also can go unnoticed until a closer look at the cats’ eyes is performed. Cats with cross-eye may exhibit dizziness due to injury or nerve damage, and the deviated eye movement will often be very noticeable.

  • Due to Injury

Cats suffering from inflammation or trauma may experience crossed eye as the muscle mobility of the eye becomes restricted due to scarred tissue.

Unquestionably, disease or injury can also cause sudden changes of eye positioning as eye movement is controlled by small muscles. This allows side to side and up and down motion.

Nevertheless, when one of these muscles is stretched out or too strong, or if the nerves that control the muscles are damaged, the abnormal direction of the eye occurs. This is referred to as a “strabismus”.

  • At Birth(Genetics)

Most cases of convergent strabismus are of a genetic cause. They tend not to cause the cat any harm.

Despite this, cats who are born with convergent strabismus generally adjust to the condition on their own and enjoy a good quality of life.

If a cat also has serious underlying problems it can develop crossed eyes as adults hence check with your vet for proper diagnosis.  Regardless, some of these problems causing the cross-eye condition are treatable.

  • Nerve Damage

Cats that have a problem in the vestibular system may suffer from dizziness due to muscle imbalances. The vet can treat your cat for the eyes to move normally after diagnosis and treatment.

Inflammation of the nerves from infections and inflammation of the inner and middle ear, or the centre of the brain that coordinates eye movement, and meningitis can also cause crossed eyes in cats.

A sick cat can lose appetite and also have elevated third eyelid.

Is Cross Eyed in Cats Treatable?

One may be asking is cross-eyed treatable. Depending on what is causing the condition once you notice these symptoms below immediately bring your cat to the veterinarian.

Crossed Eye Cat

For proper diagnosis, you will need to take your cat to see the vet.

A vet will ask a full medical history, and then examine her, including her neurological and ophthalmic (eye) exam.

History and examination will help the vet determine whether the cause is related to the eye itself, muscles, the nerves, or the brain.

A cross-eye problem which occurs in older cats rather than at birth, is often a sign of an underlying problem.

Cross-eyed in cats can be caused by genetic predisposition, vestibular system disease, and birth defect, injury to the eyes, nerve damage, or cancer. The various tests from blood works,  physical, neurological, and ophthalmologic examinations can be carried out to enable the vet to known if the cross-eye is due to genetic, cancer, injury, or nerve damage.

Some conditions are mild while some like malignancy  (tumors), or trauma may need surgery.

If the cross-eyed is due to cancer, eye removal may be necessary, to prevent the cancer spreading.

Antibiotics may be a treatment for infections affecting the vestibular system.

Physiotherapy may be used, in attempt to make the eye muscles stronger.

Let your cat exercise indoor and try to prevent him from any antics such as climbing and playing while he gets over the surgery.

Symptoms of Cross Eyed Cats

  • One or both eyes facing abnormal directions
  • Uncoordinated eye movement
  • Lack of movement in one eye
  • Pupil size difference
  • Head tilting Turning to one side
  • Weakness Difficulty walking
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

Final Thoughts

When your cat is not able to focus on the same direction with both eyes and one tend to look off in a different direction it could be cross eyes.

Subsequently, this condition can affect one or both cats’ eyes.  Strabismus also known as crossed eyes is caused by imbalances of the outer layer (muscle) of the eye. Although it can be caused by decreasing the mobility of the muscles surrounding the eye.

Any pet owner may feel frustrated with dealing with this condition in their cats’ eyes. Nevertheless, do not wait for it to go away, visit your vet, and ask for treatment you can use. Depending on what the vet will find after diagnosis he can recommend surgery, eye exercises to solve this.